Krasznahorkai, Laszlo 1954–

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Krasznahorkai, Laszlo 1954–

PERSONAL: Born January 5, 1954, in Gyula, Hungary; son of Gyorgy Krasznahorkai (a lawyer) and Julia Palinkas (a social security administrator); married Aniko Pelyhe (divorced, 1990); married Dora Kopcsanyi, 1997; children: Kata, Agnes, Panni. Education: Earned degrees from Jozsef Attila University (law), 1978, and Eotvos Lorand University (literature and philology), 1983.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—Rozsahegy 11, Pilisszentlaszlo 2009, Hungary. Agent—Ammann Verlag, Neptunstr. 20, Zurich 8032, Switzerland. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Fiction writer, travel writer, and screenwriter. Served as president of the Buddhist University at Budapest, Hungary, and as head curator of Peter Halasz's Varosi Szinhaz Theater in Budapest.

MEMBER: Wissenschaftskolleg 2U Berlin.

AWARDS, HONORS: Moricz Zsigmond fellowship, 1983; Art Fund prize for best first volume author, 1986; Jozsef Attila Prize and Prize of Mikes Kelemen Kor (Netherlands), both 1987, both for film Karhozat; DAAD fellowship, 1987–88; Dery Tibor Award, 1992; Krudy Gyula Prize, 1993; Germany's award for best book of the year, 1994, for The General Theseus; Marai Sandor Prize, 1998; scholarship grants, Civitella Ranieri Center, New York, 1999, and Japan Foundation, Kyoto, 2000; Prize of the Soros Foundation, 2003; Kossuth Prize, 2004.


Satantango (novel), Magveto Konyvkiado (Budapest, Hungary), 1985.

Kegyelmi viszonyok (short stories), 1986, revised edition, Szeged (Szeged, Hungary), 1997.

(With Bela Tarr) Damnation (screenplay), 1988.

Az ellenallas melankoliaja (novel), Magveto (Budapest, Hungary), 1989, translation by George Szirtes published as The Melancholy of Resistance, New Directions (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Bela Tarr) The Last Boat (screenplay; based on Krasznahorkai's short stories "The Last Boat" and "The Bogdanovich Story"), 1992.

Az urgai fogoly, Szephalom (Budapest, Hungary) 1992.

A Theseus-ltalanos (title means "The General Theseus"), 1993.

(With Bela Tarr) Satantango (screenplay; based on Krasznahorkai's novel of the same title), 1997.

Haboru es haboru (novel), Magveto (Budapest, Hungary), 1999, translation by George Szirtes published as War and War, New Directions (New York, NY), 2006.

Csak a csillagos eg (travel reportage), 1999.

(With Bela Tarr) Werckmeister Harmonies (screenplay; based on Krasznahorkai's novel The Melancholy of Resistance), 2000.

Eszakrol hegy, delrol to, nyugatrol utak, keletrol folyo (novel), Magveto (Budapest, Hungary), 2003.

Rombolas es banat az Eg alatt (novel), 2004.

A torinoi lovas, 2004.

Also contributor to Thy Kingdom Come, 1998.

SIDELIGHTS: Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai, who has earned degrees in law, philology and literature, has been hailed as "one of the most vital and original novelists in Eastern Europe" by critic Rob Tregenza, a writer for Cinema Parallel. Krasznahorkai's novels in English translation include Satantango, War and War, and The Melancholy of Resistance. He has also collaborated with the noted film director Bela Tarr on several screenplays adapted from his novels and short stories.

Two of Krasznahorkai's stories appear in Thy Kingdom Come, a collection of nineteen short stories by Hungarian authors. It contains Krasznahorkai's "The Last Boat" and "The Bogdanovich Story." Clara Gyorgyey, writing in World Literature Today, noted that Krasznahorkai's stories "lead into Beckettian landscapes in the postmodern fashion of frequent self-referencing." Gyorgyey classified Krasznahorkai's stories as "social criticism and political satire." The works selected for Thy Kingdom Come, are united because "each denouement is tragic, bleak, or bittersweet at best, irrespective of the style, whether realism, naturalism, surrealism, stream of consciousness, absurdism, postmodernism, or utopianism," reported Gyorgyey.

The Melancholy of Resistance, Krasznahorkai's first novel translated into English, is a social and political commentary. It takes place in Hungary, where Valuska, the central character, and his mother are beset by troubles. Disaster strikes after a carnival and its ill-intentioned workers come to Valuska's town. The carnival draws in a large number of the townspeople to view its dead whale exhibition. Valuska finds himself trapped by the astonishing events that surround him. The Melancholy of Resistance, according to Paul McRandle in his Second Circle review, "is so completely imagined, so mysteriously compelling and humorous, it recalls Dostoyevsky and Kafka. And he's no imitator; Krasznahorkai's genius for making the metaphysical material and the material metaphysical is entirely his own." Of the author's style, Michael Pinker wrote in the Review of Contemporary Fiction: "Unraveling his long, rhapsodic sentences, which suggest a language of bad dreams, proves captivating entertainment. May further translations grant him the wider notice he deserves among English-speaking readers."

The film adaptations of Krasznahorkai's works—Damnation, The Last Boat, Satantango, and Werckmeister Harmonies—have gained noteworthy attention among art cinema critics. Alan Pavelin, critiquing Satantango for Talking Pictures, wrote: "For me this seven-hour-plus portrait of life on a failing collective farm, where … an apocalyptic atmosphere overhangs all, was utterly absorbing." Piers Handling, in his commentary for Cinema Parallel, observed: "Damnation and Satantango will be viewed as central works of eastern European cinema in the decades to come." Documenting the disintegration of the communist world, these films, Handling further noted, "are like X-rays, exposing a culture with insight, humanity and courage."

In 2006 War and War, Krasznahorkai's second English translation, was published, It is the story of Gyorgy Korin, a quiet archivist who is transformed when he discovers an ancient manuscript. As he travels to New York to try to publicize the text, Korin talks at length about the book to anyone who will listen, and their reactions form "a rich layer of self-reflexive commentary," according to Stephen Sposato in Library Journal. A Kirkus Reviews writer found the character of Korin "thoroughly depressing," but acknowledged that the author raised valid "issues of war, peace and reality."



Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2006, review of War and War, p. 200.

Library Journal, April 1, 2006, Stephen Sposato, review of War and War, p. 83.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 2001, Michael Pinker, review of The Melancholy of Resistance, p. 188.

World Literature Today, spring, 1999, Clara Gyorgyey, review of Thy Kingdom Come, p. 367.


Cinema Parallel, (October 12, 2006), Rob Tregenza, "Who/What Is the 'Master'?," and Piers Handling, "The Films by Laszlo Krasznahorkai and Bela Tarr."

Second Circle, (October 12, 2006), Paul McRandle, review of The Melancholy of Resistance.

Talking Pictures, (October 12, 2006), Alan Pavelin, "The Bleak World of Bela Tarr."